Startup Weekend is an event that happens each weekend at locations around the world, teaching people how to create a business in just 54 hours. This is my third Startup Weekend. Last year I attended the first-ever Girl Scout themed version in Los Angeles and then again earlier this year at our very own San Gorgonio Council edition. In addition to sharing how our weekend transpired, I have an exclusive interview to share with the former Hot Topic CEO who took time to give us Girl Scouts some advice on starting a business. Working with these amazing Girl Scout sisters, and the people supporting this event have inspired me to spread the news about this event to more people. This particular event was for Girl Scouts ages thirteen and up, located in wonderful Santa Monica, just a few blocks from the beach at the BlankSpaces coworking offices.
The first day, Friday evening was focused on understanding the whole concept of Startup Weekend. Joy Cho, founder of Oh, Joy! came to talk about how she created a business. Let me just say, Oh, Joy! started with a piece of banana bread. It’s amazing how simply a business can begin!
Then, everyone played a game called Half-Baked, the whole idea of this game was to make a business pitch from two random words put together. It’s a great icebreaker to get all of us working together and having fun. For example, the two words our team had was potato and beach, so we decided to create a company was a restaurant with just couches. You know, couch potato. Get it, wink wink.
The second day, in the morning, any of the girls with business ideas stood up in front of the entire group and made a brief minute pitch about their idea, trying to inspire others to join their team. The ideas were then written on large post-it notes and attached the wall. All of us were then given three smaller post-it notes to vote on the idea that we liked the most. In the end, the top six were selected out of the original ten ideas. The following businesses that were picked were: dEsk, Solo, Before You Die, Footprint, Kode Red, and Instant business.
Later that day, four mentors came and talked about what we needed to do to have well thought out business. All of the mentors were helpful in a unique and useful way. One of the mentors helped us understand how to do a genius pitch. By the end of the day, everyone learned something new to work on to make their business better.
Finally, all of the teams got the chance to get customer validation by talking to potential customers at the Santa Monica Promenade. It was very useful to get people’s feedback about our company for we actually finished our plans, learning what people would actually pay for and why.
On the third and final day of Startup Weekend, all of the teams created our PowerPoint presentations to present our businesses to the judges, volunteers, and our parents. It felt like we practiced a hundred times on or presentations. It paid off because all of use were composed and confident when it came time to pitch our business. Our judges included former Hot Topic CEO Betsy McLaughlin, Girl Scouts of Greater Los Angeles CEO Lise L. Luttgens and the Managing Director of TechStars LA Anna Barber. Our first place winner was Done Daily, 2nd place went to Kode Red and 3rd place went to Travel Solo.
I would like to give a special thank you to Bethany Wylie, Melissa Pepe, and our facilitator Taylor who came all the way from New Mexico for leading an amazing, unforgettable experience.